Is “clean garage” on your forever to-do list? Then now–while the days are long and the weather’s warm–is the perfect time to clean up your act.
A garage clean-out s a job that you’ll be glad you tackled. Aside for leaving you more room for your car, “having an organized, cleaner garage leads to a cleaner house,” says Debra Johnson, a spokeswoman for Merry Maids, the home cleaning service with locations across the U.S. A tidier garage means you’ll be less likely to track in grime. And it will also help you conquer household clutter (by finding a proper home for things in the garage).
Although tackling the garage can be overwhelming, Johnson offers these neat tricks for getting the job done quickly and easily.
Get prepared. First, make sure you have the right cleaning supplies on hand and organize them in an easy-to-carry caddy so you do have to run from the garage to your house to get what you need. If you’re short on supplies, make a shopping list so you get everything in one trip.
“For de-greasing the workbench and other surfaces, a soft-scrub type of product will clean most anything,” Johnson says. And think beyond paper towels. “Microfiber cloths are my favorite,” Johnson says. With a little elbow grease, “they’re a great tool for taking the layers off so you can get down to actually cleaning the surface,” she says.
Divide and conquer. To start the cleaning process, pull your cars out of the garage and make three piles as you sort through the chaos for what needs to be donated, thrown away, or stored elsewhere.“There are often things in the garage that belong in the house, but just never made it in,” Johnson says. Take those things to the locations where they belong, right away. And make a run to your charity of choice for the items to be organized.
A place for everything. Once you’ve cleared what doesn’t belong, it’s time to find a place for what remains. Consider shelving, corkboards, bins, and overhead racks. “The garage can be a great storage area, so make it work for you,” Johnson says.
Label opaque bins so everyone knows what’s in them and create a special storage area for things that everyone needs, such as light bulbs, the bicycle pump, and screwdrivers. “Make that storage area accessible to everyone,” Johnson says.
Designate the top of your garage and other hard-to-reach places for seasonal and other items you only need occasionally. To free up floor space and organize open areas, consider using specialized storage racks for bicycles, golf clubs, and ski equipment.
Floor it. Once everything is in its place and you’ve wiped down what you can, it’s time to sweep or vacuum out the garage with a wet/dry vacuum then wash the floor. If you’re not in the mood to drag out the mop and the pail, “feel free to spray the garage floor with the garden hose,” Johnson says. Attack stubborn car grease spots with an industrial de-greaser and hot water and use garage mats for underneath your car to prevent future grease spots from forming. “Put doormats in front of the garage door leading to your home and inside the door as well. You’ll track in less dirt,” Johnson says, which can mean having to clean your house less often.